It can be tough to see your parents get older and become less mobile as they age. With a decrease in mobility comes an increase in the risk of having a fall, which could result in a serious injury. Understandably, most elderly people want to stay living in the familiar surroundings and comfort of their own home, but the worry of a parent having a fall can be a huge concern, especially if you don’t live nearby or don’t have time to visit them regularly. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make your parents’ home safer and help prevent the chance of a fall.
Fit a Stairlift
For someone who is unsteady on their feet and has limited mobility in their legs, using the stairs can be challenging and dangerous. In some cases, elderly people are able to convert the downstairs of their home and move their bed to enable them to live on just one floor. However, this is not always a practical solution. By buying a stairlift your parents can continue to use their upstairs rooms without the fear of falling on the stairs. Modern stairlifts are designed to be very easy to operate and come with a range of safety features. The cost of getting a stairlift is a lot less than the expense of moving to a bungalow or paying a builder to put in a downstairs bathroom or bedroom.
Remove Trip Hazards
If you walk round your parents’ home looking for trip hazards you may be surprised at what you find. Look out for things that could cause your parents to trip or slip as they move around their home, such as clutter, rugs, loose floorboards, electrical cables and items of furniture. Getting rid of these items is a simple way to make the home safer. If there’s an old-fashioned carpet with a strong pattern on, consider replacing this with an evenly coloured carpet or other flooring, to make it easier for your parents to see where they are walking.
Check the Lighting
Older people need good and consistent levels of lighting to be able to see more clearly as they move around their home. Check your parents’ current lights and see if you can improve the lighting by putting in brighter bulbs or even getting an electrician to put in some new lights. You could also look at getting some of the light switches moved to easier to reach locations on the wall. The décor is another thing to consider when looking at lighting, as dark coloured walls can make a room darker. It can be a good idea to repaint walls and ceilings in white or another light colour to help reflect light better.
Modify the Bathroom
There are some inexpensive bathroom aids that can make a bathroom safer for someone with mobility issues. Consider installing a toilet frame or raised toilet seat to reduce the amount of bending required. Fitting grab rails by the bath or shower is also advisable, along with installing non-slip flooring if needed.
Get a Personal Alarm System
For extra peace of mind, getting some kind of alarm system is advisable, which will trigger an alert if your parent has a fall or needs help. There are different types available, such as a necklace or wristband with a panic button on or a system that runs on motion sensors. In the event of an accident, they will be immediately connected via a speaker system to someone in a 24-hour support centre who will be able to speak to them, alert the emergency services and call you (or another nominated person).
Install a Key Safe
To ensure that you can always get into your parents’ home and as a precaution in case emergency access is required, consider installing a key safe outside the main entrance door. Key safes are accessed with a PIN code and are a secure place to keep a key. By keeping a key in a safe, family members or carers will be able to get into the house without your parents having to get up and walk to the door.
All of the things discussed here can help make a home safer and enable elderly parents to carry on living in the home they love for longer, while giving you the peace of mind that you have taken precautions to keep your parents safe and comfortable.